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Jane and Anna Campion Make a Religious-Cult Classic

Fear and Desires

In Holy Smoke, Keitel's character is fear-ridden from the get-go, but he won't admit to it. "I had Harvey in mind from the beginning but I never thought he'd agree. I know his sensitive areas and I thought it would be too emasculating. But he knows all about that stuff and that's why he enjoys doing it." Campion auditioned hundreds of young actresses before she brought in Winslet, to read opposite Keitel. "Some of the girls we saw were wonderful. They loved the mind games. They had no idea what could happen—losing yourself in a power struggle with someone. I'm terrified of going down that line. But when Kate read, I knew she was the one. There's a real balance of energy between them."

While the sisters were in town for the New York Film Festival, Jane also did research for her next film; it's an adaptation of Susanna Moore's horrific first-person novel In the Cut,starring Nicole Kidman, with financing from Miramax and Universal. "I'm going to hang out with the cops and write down what they say. I've been going into precincts. No one's cleaned on top of the cops' lockers for decades. It gives you a sense of how they treat their own." How many cop movies have there been and no one has ever thought about locker tops, let alone considered what they might mean in terms of how the law abuses its own?

‘‘Because I know her so well, I didn’t have to wait three weeks to say that something was full of shit”: Jane Campion on working with sister Anna, left. “And she felt the same way’’
photo: Robin Holland
‘‘Because I know her so well, I didn’t have to wait three weeks to say that something was full of shit”: Jane Campion on working with sister Anna, left. “And she felt the same way’’

Campion's first reaction to In the Cut was that it was incredibly disturbing and that she could never touch it. But then she and Kidman worked with Moore and they decided to do something different with the material. "The novel is quite nihilistic. I guess we cleaned it up," she says with a slightly embarrassed laugh. "I honor what Susanna did, but I don't want to leave people in such despair. Movies are different from books. They're a dream you live with forever, and I couldn't make people live with this."

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